Vitamin Deficiency in Rheumatic Diseases

According to a team of researchers, nearly three-quarters of the patients seen at the South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital rheumatology clinic of Cork City, Ireland, (SIVUH) have a vitamin D deficiency.

According to a team of researchers, nearly three-quarters of the patients seen at the South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital rheumatology clinic of Cork City, Ireland, (SIVUH) have a vitamin D deficiency. SIVUH’s rheumatology clinic specializes primarily on diseases affecting the joints, muscles, bones, and tendons.

Muhammad Haroon, MD, and associates at SIVUH assessed the occurrence of vitamin D deficiency in all new patients seen at the clinic in the spring of 2007. The research team's findings were reported at the European Union League Against Rheumatism 2008 meeting in Paris.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Rheumatic disease affects the heart, bones, joints, kidney, skin and lung, so the presence of vitamin D is rather pertinent to this treatment area.

Of 264 patients seen during the six-month study, 231 agreed to have their levels of vitamin D measured and other related tests performed. Analysis of test results and other data revealed that 162 patients (70 percent) had low vitamin D levels and 26 percent had a severe deficiency. Little difference was seen in the percentage of younger and older patients who were deficient. Severe vitamin D deficiency affected a significant percentage of patients with a variety of conditions, including inflammatory joint diseases, rheumatism, arthritis, backache, and osteoporosis.

According to comments made by Haroon in the study, chronic severe vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and the bone-softening disease osteomalacia, while a mild-to-moderate deficiency may contribute to non-specific rheumatic complaints.